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CAMH Monitor: Canada’s Longest Running Addiction and Mental Health Survey of Ontario Adults Releases 2011 Findings

Submitted by Monica Nunes, CAMH Resource Centre

Last week, researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health released the 2011 CAMH Monitor survey of substance use trends. The CAMH Monitor is the longest ongoing addiction and mental health survey of adults in Canada. The survey of 3000 adults showcases epidemiological trends in alcohol, tobacco, other drug use and mental health among adult Ontarians aged 18 years and older.

CM2011 eReport cover

 From its most recent survey, CAMH Monitor findings show some areas of improvement. In particular, while 15% of Ontario still identify as smokers, the report highlights that smoking rates have been declining steadily for years in Ontario.

This year’s report, which is available online, also names several key areas requiring continued public health attention. Below are some highlights and areas of concern in mental health, alcohol and prescription opioid use:


Mental Health

• According to the survey, one in seven Ontario adults (14.7%) experiences psychological distress, reducing their ability to function socially and emotionally.

• 6% of Ontario adults rated their mental health as poor (defined as the percentage reporting “fair” or “poor” mental health in general).


• The percentage of the population who drink alcohol has not changed dramatically in the past decade, however:

• Binge-drinking remains at high levels and is highest among young adults aged 18-29.

• In addition, a notable group of drinkers consume alcohol at levels beyond those recommended in guidelines (e.g. the Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines). There is also concern that women are drinking more than in the past. In 2001, women made up 2.6% of Ontario adults that drink daily, whereas in 2011 this number almost doubled to 5.7%.

Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers

• On a positive note, the proportion of Ontario adults who report nonmedical use of prescription opioid use has declined from 7.7% in 2010 to 4.0% in 2011.

• Despite the decline in use, CAMH Monitor researchers remind that use of these powerful and addictive substances should remain a concern as 4 % of the population amounts to 365 000 Ontarians – a significant number of adults in Ontario.

The trends in the CAMH Monitor present some areas of focus that many in public health and health promotion are actively working in. For those with an interest in learning more about health promotion, prevention and harm reductions strategies relating to opioid misuse, please stayed tuned for news about a webinar on this topic in January 2013 hosted by the CAMH Resource Centre and CAMH’s Opioid Awareness, Treatment and Education (OpiATE) project.

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